Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye Old Year. Happy New Year!

Walking away from 2010 into 2011. Wishing everyone reading this a prosperous new year!
Ptarmigan, Winsor & Newton watercolors.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

And a quetzal in a pear treeeee!!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

3-Minute Comic Theatre

A very fast comic about life's little irritations. I have a blanket with yarny tassels hanging down on both ends; I guess it's supposed to be decorative rather than used to cover yourself. And I do like bugs, but I still have that human reflex to flip out if I think one is sliding down my philtrum.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Populating Boot Hill

Another late-night doodle idea was a Grim Reaper from the Old West. This is the sketchbook scribble. It made sense to me but it looks pretty strange now. They had scythes then too of course but I thought he'd be more at home with a giant Bowie knife. And a little scorpion buddy.

I love doing research of clothes from past eras. I used a few period photos, but somehow he doesn't look very Western. Though a lot of the pictures of famous outlaws have them dressed in more formal clothes than cowboy stuff. Surprisingly, the final is very similar in pose to the skeletal (ha ha!) sketch. I inked and painted it in sepia tones to capture that old photograph look. That is one big and crooked knife!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

B&W Birds

Some more birds drawn with my crowquill. The laughing thrush has the coolest 'do. I wanted to draw some that had large areas of black and white. These are really cute birds.

White-plumed antbirds (my book is old and has outdated names) have great tufts in front of their eyes. I wonder how they see.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The quick brown fox just became the lazy dog

I have sketchbooks near my bed for picture ideas that pop in to my head in the strange times when I'm almost asleep. The other night I had a vision of foxes being miniaturized and pet-ified.

We could end up with Pomeranian-type foxes, tiny and floofy with curled tails. Or maybe a teacup fox, with Chihuahua head.

How about sweater foxes? Or, similar to what happened with those foxes in Russia bred for their fur, ones with dog-like spotting. Fox terrier, indeed!

Another fox on a leash, this time with harness. The last is a weird long-haired, flop-eared variety.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hoppin' through the forest

 More snowy white forest animals. Fuzzy!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Now You're Takin!

Scribbley time! These are some doodles with my purple pencil. Takins are very cute and fuzzy. I would like to pet one.

A dumb drawing of a lion that's been interrupted from his shower by the phone (yeah, that's a phone he's holding). Lion styles are difficult if you don't want them to look like Simbas.

A rolly bear. A bear-rel roll! With a giant head and big long arms! Oh bears, with their pointy lips and fuzzy ears.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Inka Dinks

Talking about crowquill pens the other day made me want to use mine again. I did a few warm-up scribbles of birds. I've always wanted to draw a skimmer, with their wacky beak. Bird feather texture in ink still eludes me.

The moustached swift has a very proper look about him. I tried to get some tone and line variations in this one. More to come!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Arctically Speaking

Painting white animals is a challenge. You have to try to make the shadows look like shadows on white and not gray markings. This is a ptarmigan. I love their floofy feet! The scanner seems to have eaten some of the lighter blues. These are small paintings, about 2 or 3 inches across.

Here I was trying out a water-painting technique. It came out OK; at first it looked pretty bad, but I was able to salvage it. With watercolor, you really have to try hard to preserve your highlights in water. I put on a bunch of greenish blue/indigo stripes down first, then got a wet brush and pushed the paint around. Narwhals are fun, I wish I had a narwhal tusk!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pensando en la muerte

This is my Frida Kahlo pumpkin. I couldn't get a good picture with just the candlelight. ¡Feliz dia de los muertos!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Going Bump

Happy Halloween! Monsters have to be trained and cared for when they're not stalking you, you know. The scary one is kind of like a bat-dinosaur-boar. It was fun to do a bit of creature design. An inked sketch that I painted with watercolor.

EDIT: I found the scan of the ink-only version. I sort of like it better.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

She thinks of him, and so she dresses in black.

It's become kind of a tradition for me to draw a picture of my little bilby character in a Halloween costume. This watercolor sketch is a very tiny painting of Pinki as Paul. This is why I don't draw her with shoes on -- look at how weird those Beatle boots look!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cold Macaroni

Hi followers! I'm trying to update at least once a week. I hope I can try to do it more often. This picture is a small watercolor/brush pen. Penguins are fun to draw. And I haven't made any griffins in a while, which are some of my favorite things to draw.

The snow came out kind of cool. I made a list of flightless griffins, so that's why it says Part 1. Let's see if I actually draw any more of them!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Up from the Depths

Another small watercolor sketch. I've frequently had images of big, dark shapes underwater where you don't know what kind of creature it is. In dreams, it's often been scary. I wanted to paint a more benevolent scene. This isn't any particular animal, just one that likes eating lilies.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The one that got away

This is a picture from my "watercolors of things that pop into my head, possibly to become more finished paintings some day" sketchbook. I had the idea of a large prehistoric deerlike creature with decorated arrows in its hide. Don't worry, it climbed up high and is going to be fine. Now with rudimentary background! I wish I had made his antlers much larger, like an Irish elk's.

Saturday, October 02, 2010


I heard the song Werewolves of London and wanted to draw a werewolf. He's supposed to be eating beef chow mein but it looks more like ramen. I tried for a wolfier werewolf, in coloring and ears, but he seems to have some werehusky in him. And werenerd!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!

What the heck! A whole month has almost gone by! I have some weird little doodles to post, I'll slowly get to scanning them. This first one is from one of my favorite quotes (more like huge rant) from one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride. I know Vizzini is a bad guy but I still like him.

Never go against a caecilian when death is on the line! It's hard to make limbless creatures wear little coats and peasant shirts. I did an ugly painting job on this one, bleh.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Brushes with Averageness

I did a few doodles to play with my brush pen. First is a ridiculous one; the word "binocula" just popped into my mind so I went with it. This paper doesn't like being erased either. I drew first with nonphoto blue pencil (guess it's not non-scan blue) and tried erasing it in places where it muddled the lines, but it took off the top layer of paper, along with the ink. Smudgy vampire power!

I think these old-timey bathing suits are neat. A zebra frolicking along the boardwalk. Jolly fun! I think I drew too small to get a real varied line with the pen, which is what people like using brushes for. My bad.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sticky Wicket

A rare acrylic -- and even rarer on canvas -- painting. I just can't get the hang of  it. I work too small and even the tiny brush is too thickly coated with paint to work for me. I do like the green I mixed, and I got to use Naples yellow, one of my favorite colors that I hardly ever use.

I used to like to play croquet, though I mostly liked to hit the balls around as hard as I could with the mallet.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I have a lot of different black inking pens. I haven't found a favorite one yet, so I buy a new brand almost every time. I want one with the darkest ink that writes smoothly and doesn't get a messed-up tip. I made a test sheet using all of the different pens I have, with a splotch of India ink at the top. Please excuse my sloppy handwriting. Afterwards, I went over each pen with a waterbrush to test if it's waterproof.

The Pilot Fineliner actually seems to have the blackest ink, but it's not waterproof. Sadly, my brush pen is pretty greyed out; I like the variability of a brush and ink but I don't like having to dip it. Does anyone have any other pen recommendations?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Neither More nor Less than a Pig

Alice in Wonderland seems to be a subject for almost every artist. It's very well-known and iconic, I guess. I doodled up this picture while exploring Wonderland subjects for a gift painting. I decided that no one really wants a picture of Alice and the baby that turned into a pig hanging on their wall. The image of a pig in a baby bonnet is fun though. I drew this with my heliotrope pen, then painted it with watercolor.

Here is a bonus drawing of a mome rath outgrabing. The caterpillar describes it as a lost green pig making a sound like bellowing and whistling with a sneeze in the middle. I always thought the mome raths in Disney's version were cute, but look nothing like the book's illustration.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Double the consonants, double the fun!

Hmm, been a while since I posted. Nothing more than sketches and scribbles lately, but here's an update. I hadn't drawn my cartoony bilby for a while. Here she is with puppets of a kultarr (little mousey marsupial) and a quokka (medium kangarooy marsupial). She looks like she has dinosaur feet!

The sketchbook this is in has the oddest paper texture. It's kind of rough, but the surface gets destroyed as you erase. It left big smudges all over the doodle (drew it in purple pencil, then inked and colored with watercolor pencils that I left dry) and pills of paper stuck to the eraser. It actually took up some of the ink too. It's better for straight ink or a very hard lead.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Vanished Huia

I think recent extinctions are pretty tragic, since it's almost always people who caused them. While doing research in college about the possibility of cloning extinct animals, I found out about the huia, wattlebirds from New Zealand. I have wanted to paint them for a long time, but never got around to it. Their claim to fame is the very different beaks of the male and female: males have shorter, thicker beaks like crows and females have long, thin curved beaks. The beautiful white-tipped black tails led to hunting for hat feathers, as well as museum specimens. They went extinct in the early 1900s.

The common belief is that males and females hunted together, with males digging holes in bark and females picking out bugs. I had meant to paint them feeding, but a short account about a pair in captivity struck me as a more interesting subject. The person observed the birds grooming each other frequently, and when the male died, the female pined away for him and died soon after. I made a pair of huia in better days. I took a few photos of my painting process too.

I transferred the pencil sketch to a piece of greenish watercolor paper (you can't really tell it's tinted in any of these pictures). Note the painstaking recreation of a New Zealand tree branch habitat. I started with a wash of greens and purples to be the iridescent colors in the black feathers.

Both birds are lightly painted now. I cheated on the perspective of the female's beak a bit to show how curved it is. Once again, bird feet prove very hard to draw.

Oops, a blurry photo since I turned the flash off when it made the picture all white and washed out. Building up dark color on the male with sepia, neutral tint, dioxazine violet, and perylene green.

I got the bright idea to use my lamp to light it! Now I could see the colors more clearly. I started working on the female too, adding some indigo, viridian, and ultramarine. I always leave the eye for last on a painting of an animal. This gives the work a freaky cotton-eyed taxidermied bird look at this point.

Almost done now. I've painted more on the beaks, legs, and tails. Art supplies in the background include a book of extinct birds and a Simpsons DVD set.

The finished painting. I washed a bit of color behind the birds at the end, a thing I do a lot. The photos show the greenish tinge of the feathers better than this scan. I enjoyed the process of making a sciencey illustrationy painting again. I love the research part, spending about an hour looking up mounted huia photos and contemporary art of them. It took about an hour to sketch them up, and about 3 Simpsons episodes to finish painting it.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Beach Bods

A small page of ink sketches from the beach last weekend. No one was really next to us, so I drew people as they walked by. The weirdo in the lower left was a little old lady with hunched shoulders and skinny legs who looked like she was having a great time in her giant hat with her purse. More finished art as soon as I make some!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

When your bird is broken, will it bring you down?

I needed to do some watercolor sketching. I always have a problem mixing greens, so I wanted to practice, but I didn't want to paint leaves or landscapes. So, here we have a group of seven green species of birds, partially inspired by the Beatles' song "And Your Bird Can Sing" (You say you've seen seven wonders, and your bird is green.)

Featured are the green magpie (the real one has such a more spectacular shade of green on its head I had no idea how to mix), green aracari, green kingfisher (his bill is way too thick), green pygmy-goose, green woodpecker, green jay, and green oropendula. I tried to sketch them quickly as though I was seeing them in the wild. Birds, why must you be so attractive but hard to paint?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Last Course

With these five, I have posted 100 different mammals eating. Whew!

This is a Peary caribou, a subspecies of caribou with a white coat. I like push-ups too!

A Sulawesi palm civet with an artichoke. This is one of my favorites out of all of the paintings.

A tricolored disk-winged bat eats a spoon full of rice. Note the suction cups on the wrists and feet.

Hutias are another grayish rodent. But they deserve love too! She has a wax bean.

If you know me, you could probably guess what mammal #100 would be. Greater bilbies have become "my" animal. I love cupcakes too, so she has one (mmm, red velvet). Hooray!

Thanks for indulging me in this repetitive phase. When I started, I had hoped that I'd paint 100 mammals from 100 different families. Well, taxonomy is an ever-changing science, so by using different (sometimes outdated) sources, I ended up repeating a few. I may go back and paint more so I can have 100 different families. Stay tuned!